During our fabulous autumn herb walk this month, we gathered enough haws, rose hips, sloes, crab apples, blackberries and wild pears to make a delicious hedgerow jelly.
This amber-coloured, fruity jelly is delicious served with cold meat and cheese, can be added to enrich gravies and casseroles, or is just lovely simply spread on a piece of good quality bread!
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe
1kg crab apples or pears, or cooking apples, washed and cut into chunks (no need to peel or core them)
1kg blackberries, rosehips, haws, sloes, elderberries or rowan berries (or whatever edible berries you find on your forage)
Put the apples and berries into a preserving pan. Add enough water to just cover the fruit, then bring to a simmer, and leave to cook gently until the fruit is very soft, stirring occasionally. Pour into a sterilized jelly bag and leave to drip overnight.
When ready to make the jelly, wash your jam jars in hot soapy water, rinse well, then leave to dry and keep warm in the oven (140C/120C fan/gas 1). If you are using kilner jars, do not put the rubber seals in the oven, but instead sterilise these by putting them in boiling water.
Put a saucer into the fridge to chill.
Measure the juice and transfer to a cleaned preserving pan. For every 600ml juice, add 450g sugar. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then bring up to a rolling boil and boil hard for eight minutes.
Now start testing for setting point. Turn off the heat, use a teaspoon to drip a little jelly on to the cold saucer and return to the fridge for a couple of minutes. Push the jelly with your fingertip: if it has formed a significant skin that wrinkles when it is pushed, then it has reached setting point. If not, turn the heat back on and boil for two to three minutes more, then test again.
Once setting point is reached, any ‘scum’ on the top of the jelly can be carefully skimmed off, but do avoid stirring the jelly now, as this may cause sugar crystals to form.
Pour the hot jelly into the hot, sterilised jars and seal at once. Leave to cool, label and store in a cool, dark place. Use within a year and refrigerate after opening.